Big-impact alumni set to inspire for Festival of Change

05 July 2023
CQU alumni Dr Melinda Mann, Stephanie Deenmamode, and Prof Kate Ames.
Festival of Change participants Dr Melinda Mann, Stephanie Deenmamode and Prof Kate Ames are amongst CQU alumni sharing their experience and insight in the social impact showcase

Their careers are changing lives in education, social services and sustainability, and inspiring CQUniversity alumni are sharing their experience and insights for the Festival of Change 2023

The sixth annual celebration of changemaking returns this July, and will put a spotlight on social impact for inclusion, equity and accessibility across Australian communities.

Across more than a dozen free events on campuses and online, CQUniversity’s alumni are a key feature of inspiring panels, practical workshops and changemaker conversations. 

Their diverse and big-impact careers highlight the broad impacts of CQU’s changemaker education and opportunities. 

The online launch event on Tuesday 18 July features two CQU alumni and current staff members, as they tackle the theme Breaking Barriers – making tertiary education accessible, equitable and inclusive.   

Dr Melinda Mann is a proud Darumbal woman and South Sea Islander, and CQUniversity Senior Learning Designer and Lecturer – First Nations Cultural Competency. 

Living on her traditional homelands in Rockhampton, in 2019 Dr Mann became the first Darumbal person to complete a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at CQUniversity.

The passionate advocate for Indigenous Nation building, Pacific sovereignties, and regional and rural communities brings insight into student services, learning design, community organising and academic research. 

Dr Mann will share her experience alongside CQU colleague and Master of Letters alumnus Professor Kate Ames, a multi-award-winning educator, and leader across tertiary education, Defence, and not-for-profit sectors. 

As Director of Learning Design and Innovation at CQUniversity, Prof Ames will share her passion for accessible distance education, and promoting community connection. 

In Melbourne, Research Higher Degree student and Master of Marketing alumnus Stephanie Deenmamode will showcase her research into Gen Z and Sustainable Fashion, on Wednesday 26 July. 

The green marketing enthusiast is focused on Generation Z influencing, purchasing power, and sustainable priorities, in her Master of Research thesis.

The passionate student and senior account manager has gathered data on how Gen Z connects with sustainable brands, and how platforms like TikTok, DePop and other sharing apps are influencing purchasing habits, in a bid to shape more eco-aware spending, and a more sustainable future. 

Award-winning Bundaberg not-for-profit leader Tanya O’Shea shares her experience for the Innovation to Impact lunch and learn session on Tuesday 25 July.

The Managing Director of IMPACT Community Services, Ms O’Shea was CQU Alumnus of the Year for Industry Excellence in 2020, after completing her Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) and her Master of Business Administration (Human Resource Management) at CQU.

Through her work at IMPACT, Ms O’Shea supports a thriving team to deliver training and employment opportunities, disability services, mental health support, and socially innovative business, and she was recently named Outstanding Leader for 2023, at the Australian Not-For-Profit Leadership Awards.

Mackay’s social enterprise panel event Business for Good on Wednesday 26 July will also feature big-impact leaders, including Business alumnus Elisa Crooks who founded sustainable housing start-up Millions in the Middle, and Nursing alumnus Kayleigh Brewster who established Mackay’s only daily homelessness meal service and support network Australian Street Aid. 

And in Rockhampton, a morning tea event will hear from health worker, Nursing alumnus and advocate for not-for-profit Hope in a Suitcase, Jaylene Bailey

On Thursday 27 July, the Hope in a Suitcase session will outline its vital work with children in foster care, and ways to support its mission locally. 

The annual Festival of Change highlights CQUniversity's role driving social change, innovation, equity and inclusion as an Ashoka U Changemaker University, and Australia’s first social enterprise university certified by Social Traders.

For more Festival of Change events on campus and online, browse the full schedule here